It was a Sunday morning just like any other, save for the extra snuggles in bed with the tiny, a big breakfast thrown together on the stove, and a much-needed shower that I tried to cram into too little time before church. We arrived later then usual, but I still ushered all the children where they needed to be before too much was missed.
I sat with my husband in the back, held his hand, and drank my warm mug of coffee. The kid-free hour is refreshing, and I had time to be still and breathe deep the unsung blessings of life.
We stopped home after church to regroup before running back out, and that's when we heard.
A teenage girl had been missing since last Monday when she failed to show up at school.
Why are we just hearing about this now??
We saw her parents just that morning as they left at the end of service, the typical smiles on their faces and baby in their hand. They speak but a few words of English, so politely we nod in response.
And although the religious persecution may have subsided as they washed up on freedom's shore, the cloud of oppression has far from lifted. It's so easy to take for granted that we live in a familiar land. That labels in the grocery store are decipherable. That directions make sense. That conversations and books and instructions all around us are written in a language we understand.
They went to the police as soon as they realized she was gone, but no one could understand them.
They didn't have a voice.
She was their voice, their mouthpiece to the rest of the world, and she was missing. They went back day after day. No one knew how to help them. No one could make sense of their cries.
No one knew.
We drove past their house every day. We picked up trash on their street. We walked right by, and we had no clue. To love your neighbor is to know your neighbor, and heaven help us, no one knew.
Sometimes it's not that people aren't trying to speak, aren't crying out for help. Sometimes they just can't. And other times, we just don't listen.
But on that normal Sunday, a woman took a moment to listen. She was able to understand enough, and she told someone with a voice. The voice told the police and gathered the church to wait and pray.
She had been missing for seven days.
A whole world can be created in seven days, but in a world of suffering, seven days is a lifetime.
If they spoke English, if they were white, action would've been taken in those critical first days. My heart ached at that reality, at the suffering of the marginalized. There was no amber alert issued, not a soul aware she had vanished.
I tried to be hopeful as I cried and prayed...
Lord, we know that You know exactly where she is at this very moment in time. We know you have the power to set her free. Please, Father, set her free. Bring her home. Move in the hearts of whomever may have her and bend them to your will.
She could be out of the state by now. She could be in another country for all we know. I have read things, way too many things. I know what happens to girls who disappear from these streets. What happens the first day to render them helpless and hopeless, what happens every day after that for as long as they are imprisoned in hell.
Lord, we thank you that we are never without hope, because You are the Hope. You are the Resurrection and the Life. We know you can see both the beginning and the end of this right now. Father, wherever she is, comfort her. Give her family peace. Calm their fears. Give the detectives wisdom that she may be found soon, wherever she is.
I can' t help but imagine the worst right now, and it seems like there's no hope. It's been too long.
But God, you collect every tear. You see. You know. You hear the voice of the voiceless when others cannot.
As I sat on the front porch in the sun, watching the pollen dance by on the summer breeze, that was a hard truth to swallow. Because the evil in the world seems to get away with so much. People, in the very hands of the devil himself, take and destroy so much. I know one day God will dry every tear, redeem all that was lost and more, but when the pain of the present is so raw and fresh...
We are like the flecks of pollen floating by in the sun, here today and gone tomorrow. But why is the journey so arduous for some? Why do some land softly in beauty, producing a crop of new life next season, while others get caught up in webs or stuck in puddles of mud? Why do still others wander away, never to be heard from again?
Why are my children safe in their mother's arms when others are not?
Amid the questions and wailing, the hope and the doubt, the Lord isn't thwarted by fickle human hearts. He is Lord of all and moves things as He wills to accomplish His purposes on Earth.
He heard the voice of the voiceless and the cries of the family of the church, and four hours later the girl was found. Alive, safe, and once again in the tearful embrace of her parents.
God is still in the business of miracles, my friends. Against all odds, facts and statistics, He is still willing and able to do the impossible.
Though a child may be missing, hope can always be found.
Though the world be a blanket of darkness, the Light will always prevail.
For "today I saw who God is...."